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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 11. Gaming
Agency 10. Virginia Racing Commission
Chapter 50. Racing Officials
3/29/2020

11VAC10-50-100. Starter.

A. Flat races. The licensee shall appoint a qualified person to act as starter for a flat race meeting. The starter shall be responsible for the fair and equal start of all horses at the scheduled starting time by means of a starting gate and bell. Among the duties of the starter are:

1. Ensuring that two operable starting gates are available at all times during racing days and that the starting gates are clean, neat and in good repair;

2. Permitting no horses to be entered in a race unless approved by the starter;

3. Maintaining a starter's list of the horses' names and posting the list in the racing secretary's office of those ineligible to start because lack of training or bad behavior at entering or leaving the starting gate;

4. Schooling those horses which are on the starter's list by being present with an adequate number of assistant starters during hours approved by the stewards, and approving those horses for entry which are making their first lifetime starts;

5. Appointing assistant starters who shall not handle or take charge of a horse in the starting gate without the express instructions from the starter;

6. Changing daily the gate position of each assistant starter without notice to the assistant starters until the field for the first race comes upon the racing surface;

7. Taking all necessary measures to ensure a fair and equal start;

8. Overseeing the post parade of the horses, jockeys, outriders and pony riders from the time they arrive on the track until the start is effected;

9. Ensuring that no jockey dismounts without the permission of the starter. A jockey may dismount only due to accident or injury to horse or jockey or equipment adjustment; in that case the starter may permit all jockeys to dismount. The starter shall delay the start until all jockeys have remounted their horses;

10. Ensuring that no other person than the jockey shall help in effecting a start by striking a horse or shouting at it or otherwise assisting;

11. Causing all horses, so far as is practical, to be loaded in order of post position, but the starter may, in his discretion, load an unruly or fractious horse out of order;

12. Reporting to the stewards any disobedience of his orders or attempts to take unfair advantage at the starting gate and recommending penalties for offenders;

13. Maintaining a written record showing the names of all starters during the racing day and the names of the assistant starters who handled each horse, and making the record available to stewards upon request;

14. Notifying the stewards immediately of any significant failure of the starting gate, or any defect in the starting process if any horse is not in the starting gate when the field is dispatched, or for any other reason a horse does not receive a fair start; and

15. Keeping in constant radio or telephone communication with the stewards from the time the horses leave the paddock until the horses leave the starting gate.

B. Jump races. In jump races, where the horses are started by other than a starting gate, the licensee shall appoint qualified persons to act as a starter and assistant starter. The starter shall be responsible for securing a fair and equal start for all horses at the scheduled time by means of a flag. Among the duties of the starter are:

1. Ensuring that there shall be no start until, and no recall after, the assistant starter has dropped the flag in answer to the flag of the starter;

2. Starting the horses as far as possible in a line, but the horses may be started at a reasonable distance behind the starting post as the starter deems necessary;

3. Cancelling a race unless at least one horse and jockey returns to the starter after the recall flag has been raised for a false start;

4. Declaring a race a walkover if only one horse and jockey returns and satisfies the starter of obeying the recall flag;

5. Restarting the race, when the racing surface is clear, if more than one horse and jockey obeys the recall flag;

6. Ensuring that no jockey dismounts without the permission of the starter. A jockey may dismount only because of an accident or injury to horse or jockey or equipment adjustment; in that case the starter permits all jockeys to dismount. The starter shall delay the start until all jockeys have remounted their horses;

7. Ensuring that no other person than the jockey shall help in effecting a start by striking a horse or shouting at it or otherwise assisting;

8. Reporting to the stewards any disobedience of his orders or attempts to take unfair advantage at the start and recommending penalties for offenders; and

9. Keeping in constant radio or telephone communication with the stewards from the time the horses leave the paddock until the horses start.

C. Standardbred races. In Standardbred races, where horses are started by means of a mobile starting gate, the licensee shall appoint a person qualified to act as starter for the race meeting. Among the duties of the starter are:

1. Maintaining two operable mobile starting gates and ensuring that both mobile starting gates are clean, neat and in good repair;

2. Providing a mobile starting gate with a screen or shield in front of the position for each horse, and the arms of the starting gate shall be perpendicular to the rail;

3. Appointing a qualified person to be the driver of the mobile starting gate;

4. Ensuring that the driver of the mobile starting gate knows and practices emergency procedures in the event there is a malfunction of the starting gate;

5. Maintaining a starter's list of the horses' names and posting the list in the racing secretary's office of those ineligible for entry because lack of training or bad behavior at the starting gate;

6. Schooling those horses which are on the starter's list by being present with a mobile starting gate during nonracing hours, approved by the stewards, and approving those horses coming off the starter's list and those making their first start;

7. Starting qualifying races by being present with a mobile starting gate as directed by the licensee and approved by the stewards;

8. Having control of the horses from the formation of the post parade until the starter gives the word "go";

9. Notifying the drivers during or before the post parade of the number of preliminary warming up scores and calling the horses to the starting gate no nearer than an eighth of a mile from the starting point;

10. Allowing sufficient time so that the speed of the starting gate can be gradually increased, and so that the following minimum speeds will be maintained:

a. For the first eighth of a mile, not less than 11 miles per hour;

b. For the next sixteenth of a mile, not less than 18 miles per hour; and

c. From that point to the starting point, the speed will be gradually increased to maximum speed.

11. Ensuring that the starting point is marked on the inside rail and not less than 200 feet from the first turn, and at the starting point the starter shall give the word "go";

12. Sounding for a recall by flashing a plainly visible light and sounding a recall signal to the drivers, when:

a. A horse scores ahead of the starting gate;

b. There is interference;

c. A horse has broken equipment;

d. There is a malfunction of the starting gate; or

e. A horse falls before the word "go" is given.

However, there shall be no recall after the word "go" has been given and any horse, regardless of its position or an accident, shall be deemed a starter. While the starter shall endeavor to get all horses away in position and on gait, there shall be no recall for a horse that breaks its gait.

13. Recommending to the stewards penalties to drivers for the following actions:

a. Delaying the start;

b. Failing to obey the starter's instructions;

c. Rushing ahead of the inside or outside wing of the gate;

d. Coming to the starting gate out of position;

e. Crossing over before reaching the starting point;

f. Interfering with another horse during the start; or

g. Failing to come up into position.

14. Using a loudspeaker for any other purpose other than to give instructions to drivers is prohibited and the volume of the loudspeaker shall be no higher than necessary to carry the voice of the starter to the drivers; and

15. Notifying the stewards of an unmanageable or bad acting horse or a horse liable to cause accidents or injury to any other horse or driver and recommending to the stewards that unmanageable horses be excused.

Statutory Authority

§ 59.1-369 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR662-03-01 § 2.9, eff. December 19, 1990.

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